Prep School: Breakfast

If you’ve ever stood in front of an open refrigerator at 7:05 AM wondering what to grab for breakfast (when you have to be Out.The.Door. by 7:15), meal prepping may be your new best friend. Putting together a few items to grab for breakfast will not only free up time and energy in the morning, it can also help with eating healthier and saving some money. Yes, it takes a little bit of commitment up front but the work you put into it is less than what it takes to pull something together every day.

Some questions to answer when you’re choosing what to make:

  1. Do you prefer hot or cold breakfast? A healthy mix of both? Choose recipes that will help you change it up every now and then.
  2. Is there a way to cook or reheat (microwave, toaster oven) at your workplace or do you need something you can eat as is?
  3. Do you want to eat while on your commute or do you prefer to sit with your meal?
  4. Is there refrigerator space at work for you to store meals or ingredients?

Before we get into some breakfast recipe ideas, we want to remind you that you don’t have to always eat “breakfast foods” for breakfast. Leftovers can be excellent breakfast options (think: pizza, soup, casseroles), it just depends on how your body feels in the morning and if it will be OK with something a little heavier than eggs or cereal.

Side note: I ate leftover beans and rice with a piece of fruit for breakfast as I wrote this. It was delicious.

Overnight Oats
This hearty grain-based breakfast is one of the hottest trends in food blogs right now (I Googled it, there’s over 21 Million hits), and with good reason. It’s easy, portable, and super personal since it’s up to you to decide what you want to add to them. They’re meant to be eaten cold so they’re perfect for the upcoming warmer months but if made in a heat-safe container you can easily warm them up in the microwave. Once made, they keep well for up to 5 days so you can have breakfast covered for the whole week. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • ½ cup plain rolled oats or quick oats (or you can use cooked brown or white rice)
  • ½-1 cup milk of choice (dairy, soy, almond)
  • ½ cup cut fruit (strawberries, canned pineapple, banana, apple, blueberries, oranges, mango…any fruit you have on hand)
  • 1-2 tablespoons nut butter (optional, but adds some healthy fat and protein)
  • Dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, or pie spice (optional)
  • A tiny pinch of salt (really!)

Combine all ingredients in a jar with a lid, shake it up and place in the fridge. You don’t have to buy special jars for this (unless you are going to heat it up). We wash and reuse jars in our house, like peanut butter or pickle.

Breakfast Burritos
It takes about 30 minutes to make a dozen burritos you can wrap, freeze and store for busy mornings. Before we get to the recipe, here are tips to keep your burritos from getting soggy or breaking while rolling.

  1. Use flour tortillas. Usually 10-12 inch tortillas are labeled as ‘large’ or ‘burrito size’. If stored in the fridge, bringing them to room temperature before rolling will keep them from cracking.
  2. Sogginess is not allowed. A couple reasons why burritos may reheat into a soggy mess: the ingredients are still warm when the burrito is assembled (let them all cool off completely before starting) and layering the eggs directly onto the tortillas. Always add the cheese first, this makes a cozy layer that separates the eggs from the tortilla.
  3. Freeze in a single layer. This helps them freeze faster and any steam that the filling may still have won’t have time to seep into the tortilla.
  4. Use vegetables that aren’t moist. Salsa on a burrito is great, but the tomatoes will seep liquid even if they’re cooked into the eggs. Spinach, chard and other vegetables can also cause sogginess. Keep the salsa on the side and choose heartier greens, like kale, if you choose to use them.
  5. Reheating: Unwrap, microwave on high 4-6 minutes, turning halfway through; or, unwrap, place in toaster oven at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Cheesy Potato Breakfast Burritos (makes 12)

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (canola, olive, whatever you have)
  • 3 ½ cups frozen diced potatoes (or diced fresh potatoes, but these will take a while to cook)
  • 3 cups chopped kale (optional)
  • 24 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or another tablespoon oil)
  • 1 pound cooked and chopped bacon, sausage or chorizo (optional)
  • 12 large flour tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (any kind you like)
  1. Have all ingredients at room temperature. Heat oil in a large pan over medium high, add potatoes and cook until they begin to brown. If using fresh potatoes, continue until cooked through.
  2. Add kale, if using, and cook until dry and wilted.
  3. Remove potato mixture to a cookie sheet, spread into a layer and allow to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk and salt. Heat butter or oil over medium low heat and add eggs (do this in batches if the pan is too full). Allow the eggs to begin to set around the egdes, 2-3 minutes, and with a spatula or spoon push the set eggs towards the center. Keep doing this every 30 seconds until the eggs are all set and cooked through.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
  6. Assembly: Place tortillas on a plate and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave for 30 seconds, this will make them soft and easy to roll.
  7. Lay tortillas out on a table, clean counter or other flat space. Divide the cheese evenly among them. Add the cooled potato mixture, then the cooled eggs, evenly among them.
  8. Roll burritos! Unsure how? Here’s a tutorial.
  9. Wrap each one in tin foil and freeze in a single layer. If you choose not to freeze them in a bag, use a marker to label each one so you know what it is.

Another make-in-the-container meal, these layer fruit with yogurt. Keep some dry cereal separate to add a little crunch and fiber right before eating.

  • 1 cup cut fruit
  • 1 cup lowfat yogurt (plain or vanilla)
  • ¼ cup dry cereal (granola, corn flakes, raisin bran, etc.), optional
  • In a container with a lid, put ½ cup yogurt followed by ½ cup fruit. Repeat layers.

Muffins, Sweet of Savory
Oatmeal Muffins are a sweet option, and a couple of these for breakfast are a good source of fiber. These also freeze really well and if you can keep a jar of nut butter at work, adding a smear before eating is delicious.

Egg recipes made in muffin tins can be wrapped and frozen for extra long storage. Defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Or pull them right from the freezer into the microwave on medium high for 1 ½ minutes.

Red Pepper and Kale Muffins are huge in flavor. Swap out spinach for kale and other vegetables like chopped broccoli for the red pepper. To make your own mixture a good rule of thumb for 12 muffins is:

  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup diced vegetables
  • 2-4 cups leafy greens (optional)
  • ½ cup diced meat (ham, bacon, turkey sausage), optional
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup shredded cheese

Spray muffin tins or use paper muffin cups, combine all ingredients in a large bowl and fill tins. Keep a little room at the top, eggs will expand in the oven. Bake at 375 for about 12 minutes. Allow to cool before removing muffins and storing in the fridge.

Written by Adriene Worthington, RDN, LDN

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